Make Your Supplies Last Longer

lemon juice in a bowl with fresh cut lemons on a cutting board

Buying food in bulk is no use if the supplies don't last. Don't fret, though—if you're smart about it, you can make cooking supplies last longer.

Eat Older Foods First

Practice the first in first out rule. When you get home from the grocery store and are unloading items into your fridge, put them in the back of the fridge, not upfront. Reserve the front spaces for older items that are closer to expiring. Hopefully, this will make you remember to use the food before it goes bad, preventing you from wasting food and money.

Focus on Cheap, High Calorie Foods

Every dollar counts, so when you get the chance to buy food, focus on healthy but inexpensive staples that deliver high nutritional value. Some great mainstays that can both last a long time and deliver great health support are brown rice, quinoa, dried beans, oats, sweet potatoes, and sunflower seeds.

cut sweet potato on wooden cutting board

Preserve with Lemon Juice

If you are cutting a large amount of fruit at once to store as a snack for later, consider sprinkling it with some lemon juice. This will keep fruit, such as an apple, from browning.

Flip Containers Over

We've all be there: we've all made pasta, then gotten out a half-used jar of sauce from the fridge only to find that it was near impossible to get the sauce out of the jar. To prevent this, try storing the jar upside down. This can also be helpful for things like salsa. It will also keep mold away.

Before you flip a jar upside down, though, make sure the lid is on tight or you might come across on unfortunate mess the next day. You may even want to consider adding some aluminum foil to the lid or putting a napkin under the jar if you think it is prone to leaks.

Freeze Batches

assorted frozen vegetables in tupperware

If buying a large quantity of something, like a package of 10 chicken breasts, consider taking out only what you need for the next few days and then freezing the rest. Then, the night before you are looking to make chicken again, take only what you need out of the freezer. This will stretch the number of days the food is good for and prevent you from wasting large amounts of food.

Distinguish Between Sell By and Use By Dates

Expiration dates are meant to help you understand when food is its freshest. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service's FoodKeeper App will help you understand how long food is good for.

Many items are believed to still be safe to eat even after they are technically expired. Do some research on the specific food item, though. Examine the food for mold and make sure it does not emit a smell it shouldn't. When in doubt, go with the safer option and through the food away.

Specific Food Preservation Techniques

Not all foodstuffs are created equal. Here are a few hacks to preserve individual items.

Keep Cheese Covered

Leave the wrapper on a block of cheese as you are cutting it. Put the part of the block you are not using, with the wrapper still on it, into an airtight bag and back in the fridge. Leaving the plastic on the block of cheese as you cut it prevents you from touching the cheese and spreading bacteria from your hands to the food. By not touching it, the cheese will keep longer.

Leave in Avocado Pits

Guacamole can be a delicious side or snack but it can also spoil quickly. If you are making a large batch of guacamole, or making it to serve at a later time, place a few pits into the bowl with the guacamole. This will prevent it from browning.

If you have half an avocado left over, make sure it's the half with the pit. Put saran wrap on it before storing it in the fridge.

avocado with pit on cloth surface

Freeze Flour

If you only go through small amounts of flour at a time, you may want to consider storing it in the freezer. Doing so decreases the risk of bugs getting into the container.

Wrap Banana Tops in Cloth

There's a reason you see bananas sold in clusters. A single banana will turn brown faster than if kept in a bunch. To make them last even longer, wrap the tops with cling wrap.

Store Onions in Tights

Have any pairs of tights that you regret buying? There may be another use for them. Try putting onions in old pairs of tights, tying a knot between each onion, and hanging them in a dark cupboard. Some foodies report this method keeping onions fresh for up to eight months.